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Best Smart Remotes

Updated November 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 5 Models Considered
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 150 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best smart remotes

    Last Updated November 2018

    You've got your TV, digital box, streaming stick, Blu-ray player, game console, and stereo system. Now you've upgraded to a smart lighting system and thermostat. Before you know it, your home is littered with so many remote controls it's nearly impossible to keep track of which one does what.

    If this sounds like your life, you need a smart remote to come to the rescue. You'll be surprised by how streamlined your home can be when you have a single remote to control everything.

    How do you pick the best smart remote? Which one fits all your personal requirements? When you're new to the world of smart remotes, the whole process can seem baffling. We at BestReviews are here to help you out. Read on to learn everything you need to know to find your perfect smart remote.

    Some smart remotes have an ergonomic design, making them more comfortable to hold and use.

    What is a smart remote?

    A smart remote is essentially an advanced version of a universal remote.

    Smart remotes are able to connect to all your entertainment devices so you can control them all from one place.

    All but the most basic smart remotes should also be able to connect to smart home devices such as lighting systems, security cameras, and thermostats.

    EXPERT TIP

    As long as your internet connection is secure, a smart remote shouldn't pose a security risk in a home that's filled with connected devices.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Types of smart remotes

    Button-based smart remotes

    • These are the most similar to a standard remote control.

    • Some switch between devices using different codes; others switch at the press of a button.

    • While button-based smart remotes might seem more familiar to the technology-averse user, they tend to be less intuitive to use than touch-screen versions.

    Some button-based smart remotes use a motion-controlled pointer system, projecting a cursor onto your TV so you simply point and click rather than press buttons.

    Touch-screen smart remotes

    • These remotes have an integrated touch screen.

    • Most of these remotes combine a screen with buttons; some feature a screen only.

    • Once they're set up, these remotes are fairly simple to use. You simply select the relevant device or action from the screen.

    • You can set quick commands to do common actions – turn on the TV or roll down the blinds – with a single press on the touch screen.

    Smart remote apps

    • These apps for your tablet or smartphone turn your device into a smart remote.

    • Some smart remotes come with an app that adds an extra layer of functionality, but you can also find standalone smart remote apps. (We wouldn't recommend a standalone smart remote app for most users, so we won't be focusing on them in this guide.)

    • Even with a smart remote app, most smartphones and tablets aren't able to control devices that rely on infrared (IR), such as TVs and stereos, since they’re unable to emit IR beams.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    You can find touch-screen remotes that "know" which device you're pointing them at and change the controls displayed on the screen accordingly.

    Smart remote features to consider

    Hubs

    The job of a hub is to wirelessly connect any home devices that are controlled via WiFi. Some smart remotes include a hub. When you use your smart remote to operate connected devices, the remote communicates with the hub, which in turn communicates with your desired device. This allows you to control various smart devices that you wouldn't be able to operate with a standard remote.

    App integration

    Many high-end smart remotes come with an integrated app that you download onto your smartphone or tablet and use in addition to the remote. Most smart remote apps also connect to your hub, allowing you to control your devices when you're not home. For instance, you could turn on your furnace ten minutes before you get home or turn on the television to make it seem as though someone is in the house.

    Most smart remotes aren't able to directly control devices via WiFi. Instead, they use a hub as a "middleman" to achieve the same effect.

    Method of control

    Different smart remotes use different methods of control in order to communicate with and operate devices. The best remotes feature a range of methods to easily operate a range of devices.

    • IR or RF: Some smart remotes use IR to control basic entertainment devices such as TVs, Blu-ray or DVD players, and stereos. Others use radio frequency (RF), which many consider superior because you don't have to be within the line of sight of a device to control it.

    • WiFi or Bluetooth: Many smart remotes can also control devices via WiFi or Bluetooth, usually with the help of a hub or integrated smartphone app.

    Ease of use

    It's important to consider how easy or hard to use your chosen smart remote is. If you feel like you need a degree in computer science just to switch between controlling your TV and your lighting system, you're making your life harder than it needs to be. Look for a smart remote with user-friendly controls. While you can expect a bit of a learning curve when starting to use your new remote, it shouldn't feel like a chore.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Smart remotes that use WiFi or Bluetooth are able to control smart home devices, while those that only use IR or RF cannot.

    Smart remote prices

    You can expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $250 for a smart remote.

    • Button

    Basic button-based smart remotes cost as little as $30 to $50. You'll have to pay closer to $100 for a higher version that can control smart home devices and entertainment systems.

    • Touch-screen

    Basic touch-screen smart remotes start at about $100. More advanced models that come with a hub and app integration can cost as much as $250.

    EXPERT TIP

    The best smart remotes don't require "line of sight" to operate linked devices. For example, they allow you to switch your downstairs stereo system on or off from upstairs.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Tips

    • Think about the number of devices you want to control. Most smart remotes can only control a limited number of devices, usually between five and 20, although a handful of models can control an unlimited number of devices.

    • Consider the battery life of your chosen smart remote. Those with touch screens tend to use more power.

    • Decide where you'll place your hub. Some hubs need to be hardwired to the internet, while others can be tucked away in a cabinet.

    • Select a fairly durable smart remote. No matter how careful you are with your new remote, it's probably going to take a few dives off the coffee table or couch. Look for a model that won’t fall apart after a few knocks and bumps

    • Note the quality of the touchscreen. Not all touch screens are created equally. Some have a crisper image and are more responsive than others.

    • Check the power options. While most smart remotes use standard batteries – usually AAA or button – some recharge via a USB cable.

    If your smart remote comes with an integrated app, you can control your devices via your smartphone or tablet.

    FAQ

    Q. Why should I buy a smart remote?

    A. The main reason to buy a smart remote is convenience. It's far more convenient to have one remote that does everything than a small arsenal of remotes. Why shouldn't you make your life a little bit easier? If you have one remote that you always keep in the same place, it's less likely to get lost. If you have several different remotes, you’ll probably have to spend time searching for the right one. Also, let's not forget that trading in multiple remotes for just one reduces clutter.

    Q. Are smart remotes easy to set up?

    A. How easy you find your smart remote to set up will depend on the model you choose and how tech savvy you are. Some smart remotes are moderately challenging to set up, but most users don't find it too difficult if they read the manual carefully.

    Q. Are smart remotes compatible with Amazon Echo and other smart speakers?

    A. Some smart remotes are compatible with smart speakers like Amazon Echo. You first need to link your smart speaker and your smart remote. After that, you should be able to verbally tell your smart speaker to use your smart remote to turn on and operate any of the devices it controls.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Lauren
      Lauren
      Writer
    • Samantha
      Samantha
      Writer

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